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Donna McCracken

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This Year



McGregor named University Scholar for 2003

October 6, 2003

SPRINGFIELD - Robert McGregor, professor of History at the University of Illinois at Springfield, has been named University Scholar for 2003-2004. He is one of 14 faculty members, and the only one from UIS, chosen for this award honoring and rewarding outstanding teachers and scholars on the three U of I campuses.

McGregor will receive $10,000 a year for three years to support research and other scholarly activities.

Since McGregor joined the UIS History program in 1986, he has received national and international attention for his work as an environmental historian. Materials nominating him for the award cite his "renovative" approach to teaching and continual design of new courses.

His 1997 book, A Wider View of the Universe, was the first attempt to trace the origins of Henry David Thoreau's love of nature and took an in-depth look at Thoreau's self-imposed task of systematically observing and recording the environment in and around 19th century Concord, Massachusetts.

In 2000, McGregor and colleague Ethan Lewis joined forces to write Conundrums for the Long Weekend: England, Dorothy L. Sayers, and Lord Peter Wimsey. This book explored how Sayers used her fictional hero to comment on and come to terms with the social upheaval that took place in England between the first and second world wars. The Mystery Writers of America subsequently awarded it the 2001 Edgar for Best Critical Biography.

McGregor's only novel to date, All Fall Down, is a murder mystery with a historically accurate background - Duluth, Minnesota, during the 1918 Spanish influenza epidemic and the great fire that nearly destroyed the city. McGregor says the story was conceived as a "metaphor for the 20th century." His forthcoming books include History of the Great Lakes and a work in progress on Cahokia Mounds. He is also the author of many articles on environmental history and regularly writes essays for Illinois Issues magazine on such topics as the Mississippi flood of 1927.

McGregor received his Ph.D. in American History, with a focus on environmental issues, in 1984 from the State University of New York. At UIS, his teaching areas include early American history, environmental history, and the history of England.

The University Scholars program was inaugurated in 1985 when the U of I Foundation celebrated its 50th anniversary. The program's purpose, then and now, is to strengthen the University in meeting today's challenges and tomorrow's promise. Faculty do not apply for this award; they are nominated by their peers. A committee of senior faculty makes the final selection.